Blue Moon

Sarah was graduating from a high school in Vista, and her family rented a banquet hall at Pechanga casino in Temecula to celebrate. It was a bit of a drive, but it's not football season, so what else did I have to do on a Sunday afternoon? On the elevator up to the hall, one woman asked another, "How do you know Sarah?" The woman said something about cheerleading and then looked at me. "I don't know Sarah," I said. "I'm just going to crash the party."

There was a no-host bar and dinner was provided. As guests signed in, we received leis for the Hawaiian-themed party. Instead of traditional flower leis, these were made of large beads. I took a black one.

I grabbed a Coke from the bar and found Judy's table. Judy was the lady who gave me the heads up on this party. She started to introduce me to everyone, and I said, "I don't need to meet everyone.... I'm afraid you're going to grab the waiter or the DJ next." As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized how rude I sounded. "Well, I thought you'd at least like to meet the hosts of the party!" Judy said. I asked her what Sarah's dad's name was. When she told me, I realized that I had gone to high school with him. Although we graduated together, we didn't know each other.

Everyone was eating, and I went and grabbed some food. For some reason, I felt guilty. I wondered if the people at my table thought I'd shown up for the free grub. As I was eating my fruit salad, I thought I was putting a piece of banana into my mouth. It wasn't banana, however. I asked Judy if she knew what it was. She took her fork and started poking around my fruit. I saw rice slide off her fork and onto my plate, and I said, "I didn't mean for you to touch my food with your fork. I was hoping you could just eyeball it."

There was an hour of entertainment, which featured hula dancers and traditional Hawaiian songs and dances. A lady explained the history and meaning of the songs and the instruments the band played. One instrument was made of bamboo sticks. Others looked like pots, which the dancers pounded. We were told that the dancers made the instruments themselves.

As the woman talked about eating cactus, I heard an older lady yell, "I can't understand a word she's saying!" It was difficult for me to understand what she was saying as well because the table behind mine was noisy. As we were listening to the talk about traditions on the islands, the people at the next table talked over her, as if nothing else was going on.

After another older person said, "I can't see a thing they're doing!" I wondered if the high school graduates would rather be at a party without so many older relatives. When I saw two of them look down at their cell phones, I figured I knew the answer to that.

One guy came out to dance, and we were told that he'd be retiring soon. His body was covered in tribal tattoos. As he danced, I noticed everyone at the tables looking at each other. The shorts he was wearing were tight. You could see...everything.

There was an impressive variety of desserts -- banana cream and coconut cream pies, pineapple upside-down cake, mango mousse cake, chocolate macadamia nut torte -- but by the time I got there, the chocolate was gone. I complained about that when I got back to my table, and a blonde woman said that she loved chocolate, too.

I thought it would be a smooth move to go downstairs to one of the cafés in the casino and buy us each a piece of chocolate cake. The café also had chocolate chip cookies, and I bought some of those as well. It took longer then I had hoped, but when I got back to the table, I had chocolate cake for her. I hadn't taken into account how that would look to the other people at the table, as they salivated over what we were devouring.

A DJ was setting up. Later in the evening they would have more contemporary dancing.

I went over to Sarah's table and asked her high school friends to share some stories about her. One said, "There are too many stories. I wouldn't know where to begin." Her friend Lindsay said, "Everything she does is crazy, but here's a good story: there's a park around the corner from my house. We were walking over there and decided to moon the cars that were passing by. We were doing that, and one car happened to be my parents."

"Did they say anything to you when you got home?"

"No. They didn't even know it was us."

When I shared this story with another guy, he said, "Oh, we used to moon people all the time in high school." I replied, "Really? Did I miss out on something? I remember once my friend Joe tried to moon people as we were driving out of Denny's parking lot. He almost fell out of the car. I think maybe it was that incident that kept me from mooning."

Back at my table, I listened as Sarah's dad gave a touching speech. When Sarah's mom spoke, I could tell by the quiver in her voice that she was on the verge of tears. Sarah's grandparents were sitting at my table. I heard that her great grandparents were there and that one of them had had a recent hip replacement.

When Sarah's grandparents walked by, I said to the guy I was talking to earlier, "Wouldn't it be funny if her grandfather said he got her a graduation gift and then mooned her?"

He looked at me as if I were insane.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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